A Journey Through the World of Tea

A Cup A Day Keeps the Doctor Away?

“Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), or simply, diabetes, is a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin” – The American Diabetes Association (ADA)

Now, to help that make sense for anyone that isn’t either a patient, a chemistry lover, or a biology freak, I will offer a brief summary.

Diabetes is a disease that affects 8% of the US’s population, and it can be caused by genetic factors or lifestyle habits.

Glucose is a simple sugar that is present in your blood. Normal levels for humans (before the first meal of the day, the “fasting” period) are less than 6.1 mM (mM is a fancy chemistry abbreviation, but relativity is more important). People with untreated diabetes on the other hand, have much higher blood sugar levels, and are found to be over 7.0 mM (more than 14% extra sugar in the blood).

Just like everything else in the body, more is not usually good. Non-diabetic people regulate these levels with a hormone called insulin. Insulin tells cells to absorb the glucose, and tells the liver to stop giving out glucose. Type 2 diabetics have become immune to their own insulin production, so cells don’t get the message to absorb the glucose, while the liver continues to produce more glucose, causing higher blood sugar levels.

Patients suffering from diabetes may deal with complications such as blindness, cataracts, heart disease, stroke, and nerve damage. While there is no cure for the disease, diabetes can be controlled. Diabetics are encouraged to keep blood pressure and blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible. Management of diabetes is kept by having strict control over diet, exercise, and proper use of medications.

Now, I am no mind reader, but I can assume that you might be confused as to why you just read about diabetes on a tea blog. After all, diabetes ≠ tea. Well, a study done by the Institute of Food Technologists has shown evidence that a substance in black tea can help in preventing or fighting diabetes.

“There is a potential for exploitation of black tea polysaccharide in managing diabetes.”

Haixia Chen (Lead researcher of the study)

The substance found in tea that can help with diabetic control is polysaccharide. Instead of being a simple sugar like glucose, it is a chain of many glucose linked together. This substance helps by slowing down the absorption of glucose and reduces sugar in the blood. The study also found that black tea can mimic Precose and Glyset, two commonly prescribed medications that help patients with type 2 diabetes.

I was 14 years old when I learned that my father was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Not knowing anything about it, I did a little research on the disease and came up with all this information. Through this experience though, I’ve learned that preventive medicine is important, and can be as powerful as prescribed medicine. If you are like me, you may not be a big fan of black teas, but learning this information may make you take a second look at black teas.

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